Key West police did not violate the civil rights of an 8-year-old boy when they attempted to handcuff him at his elementary school after he was accused of hitting a teacher in 2018, ruled a federal judge.
The boy’s mother, Bianca Digennaro, sued police in Key West and the city in August 2020 after his lawyer, Benjamin Crump, posted video of the boy’s arrest on his Twitter account. The trial accused the police of using excessive force, of failing to intervene in his arrest and of ignoring his disability during the incident.
“A mental health crisis in a school, and they feel it is appropriate to arrest him, charge him and have him become an eight-year felon,” Crump said after filing the complaint. ‘last year.
But U.S. District Court Chief Justice K. Michael Moore sided with police officers Michael Malgrat, Kenneth Waite and Fred Sims as well as the city.
Moore cited the video, which shows the boy crying as an officer places him against a filing cabinet inside the school office. An officer searches him and tries to put metal handcuffs on his wrists.
“The court cannot ignore the fact that, as the video of the arrest shows, Waite simply attempted to handcuff. [the boy] for less than thirty seconds, causing no pain or physical injury, ”Moore wrote in an 18-page order filed Monday.
“Wait then gave up the effort and escorted [the boy] without restraint, ”Moore wrote. Officers explained to [him] why they were stopping him, talking calmly to him and explaining the seriousness of his actions.
Moore wrote that although the boy was visibly upset upon arrest, “the attempted handcuffs can hardly bear to serve as the sole or primary basis for any emotional injury he suffered as a result of the events that unfolded. products that day “.
Even painful handcuffs are not, in and of themselves, excessive force, Moore wrote.
Moore ordered the court clerk to close the case.
Crump, of Tallahassee, and Devon M. Jacob, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., Did not immediately return messages on whether they would appeal the ruling.
“Judge Moore ruled that handcuffing the minor was not a Fourth Amendment violation and that is why he closed the case,” said attorney Scott Alexander, of Fort Lauderdale, who represented Key defendants. West with his legal partner Michael Burke.
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.
“I am very happy and satisfied with the very thoughtful and thorough decision of the tribunal,” said Burke. “He gave a very comprehensive description of it. “
The case against the Keys School was dropped after cops attempted to handcuff an 8-year-old. But it is not finished
In March, the judge dismissed complaints against three employees of the Monroe County School District.
The incident happened on December 14, 2018 at Gerald Adams Elementary School in Stock Island. Police said teacher Ashley Henriquez approached the boy in the school cafeteria because he was not sitting properly in his seat while the children watched a video.
After he didn’t comply, she tried to get him to sit with her and that’s when the boy punched her in the chest, Henriquez told police.
“My mom is going to beat your a–” the boy told her before hitting her, police said.
The boy’s father, Herschell Major II, was called in and came to school, where he told Malgrat he wanted his son to be handcuffed, as per Moore’s order.
But the officer who attempted to handcuff the boy, Waite, “was unaware of and did not have the benefit of discussions between Malgrat and [Major] regarding the teaching of a lesson at any time before or during his attempt to handcuff [the boy]Moore wrote.
Lawyers for Digennaro said the major never told Malgrat to go ahead and handcuff the boy, Moore noted in his order. The officers ended up driving the boy to the police car without restraint.
He was incarcerated in a juvenile detention center in Key West on a felony battery charge
The Monroe County State Attorney’s Office chose not to pursue the case about nine months after the arrest.
Mother of boy arrested in Key West sues city, police, teacher and school district
Video shows Key West police trying to handcuff 8-year-old boy